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Living "off the grid". Crazy or awesome?

rockofullr

confused
Jun 11, 2009
7,349
897
East Bay, Cali
My wife and I have been casually looking at houses lately. We looked at a very intriguing property yesterday. It consists of a small 2 bedroom house, a barn, a chicken coop, and two shed/workshop structures. The owner even built a jungle gym fairly recently. The property itself is incredible, 15 acres on a hilltop with stunning views. All within our expected budget.

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The house.

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Chicken coop.

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Barn

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Looking from the house to the workshop/shed

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Workshop/shed

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jungle gym

The catch? It's "off the grid". Electricity is supplied by a wind generator, some solar panels, and two diesel generators. Other appliances are run off of a propane tank. Water is sourced from a well on the property and there is a septic system. In addition it is in the boonies and would effectively double my 30 min commute to 1 hr each way.

There are some serious drawbacks but wouldn't it be worth it to live in the woods with not a neighbor in sight? I could build a DS course, a pump track and some dirt jumps. My wife could have all the animals she wants (she used to live on a farm and is just as excited as I am about having some land).

Any monkeys have experience with similar setups? Am I crazy for even considering this?
 

ALEXIS_DH

Tirelessly Awesome
Jan 30, 2003
5,307
129
Lima, Peru, Peru
if i could, i would get it.

i cannot get something outside the city, unless i raise my commute to 3 hours each way.i so want to live in the boonies, thing is my wife is a city person, and she does not drive. means she HAS to live within 8 miles of work.

the most i can get in Lima, is a 800sq ft flat, for 100 grand.
a house with a measly 1000sq ft yard close to work, runs for over half a million dollars.
 
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RoboDonkey713

Monkey
Feb 24, 2011
679
462
Maine
If you are buying with cash or private funding, go for it. Last I checked banks do not do Loans on homes that are not on the grid.
 
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jackalope

Mental acuity - 1%
Jan 9, 2004
5,776
1,858
in a single wide, cooking meth...
^^
:rofl:
The Rice Planters Society of South Carolina approves of that message.

As for the OP, I think it would be cool as hell (especially if you eventually work with some neighbors and build your own private trail system/jumps), but gotta also consider the school situation if you have spawn. Just mention this since you pointed out the jungle gym.
 
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boostindoubles

Nacho Libre
Mar 16, 2004
4,077
1,564
Yakistan
I'd say it sounds crazy awesome, if your willing to learn how it all works and functions. I've lived in the country most of my life and plan to continue that lifestyle as long as I can.

If you dive in, get to know the systems inside out. It really depends on how well everything was designed and installed...
 
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SkaredShtles

I love NEWCASTLE and will ONLY drink NEWCASTLE!!!!
Sep 21, 2003
47,765
2,349
In a van.... down by the river
I'd say it sounds crazy awesome, if your willing to learn how it all works and functions. I've lived in the country most of my life and plan to continue that lifestyle as long as I can.

If you dive in, get to know the systems inside out. It really depends on how well everything was designed and installed...
You can guarantee it will be a clusterfvck of epic proportions. People building "off-the-grid" don't generally go in for "proper design and installation"...
 

rockofullr

confused
Jun 11, 2009
7,349
897
East Bay, Cali
You can guarantee it will be a clusterfvck of epic proportions. People building "off-the-grid" don't generally go in for "proper design and installation"...
That's what I'm worried about. It's gonna take some serious homework before I can pull the trigger here but the opportunity is almost too much to pass up.

True, given its location I'd like to see the diesel generator room connected to the buried conex box.
Good point. We need to return with more time to spend looking at the details. Also I think we would need to get in touch with the owner to find out how he has everything set up.
 

C.P.

Monkey
Jan 18, 2004
547
8
SouthEastern Massachusetts
Interesting setup, I would be interested in something like this, but a few things to think about.
~If you are commuting to work very far away, it gives you much less response time & sometimes availability to deal with the issues that come with living off grid, and they do come. At very least, make sure there is good cell service at the house, that would be important for emergencies.
~Someone already mentioned it, but school system access...
~I would examine the systems that require (electrical) energy and compare that to the on site production capabilities/types. If the whole thing relies heavily on the diesel genny daily to make it all work, that could get real old (& expensive) quick. OTOH, if there is sufficient on site battery storage being fed by the wind genny & solar to keep things powered without interruptions for decent stretches of time (without diesel use) then it could be pretty comfortable, and much less of a headache. Even if it has an old Lister genny, (which are reliable as hell) it would still be some extra trouble...
 
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Jeremy R

<b>x</b>
Nov 15, 2001
9,468
421
behind you with a snap pop
Any monkeys have experience with similar setups? Am I crazy for even considering this?
I have no experience with the "Off the Grid" part, nor do I want to, but I do have experience with a similar setup with power. ;)
A few years back we bought 5 wooded acres and built a house in the woods. We wanted to get out of a neighborhood, and have some land. I built a single lane DS trail with jumps in the front woods, and I have an awesome pump track in the back woods that I ride constantly. My wife also can go full retard when it comes to animals (Who the hell feeds feral cats?), so she likes having the land and this setup as well. We don't regret anything about living this way even though not far off of our property resides some of the sketchiest people this planet has produced. The only thing I do regret about it is not building a smaller cheaper house.
 

Westy

the teste
Nov 22, 2002
36,260
2,995
Sleazattle
Economically speaking you will probably spend more money on batteries and other crap that will make it possible to live off the grid than you would on an electricity bill if you lived a similarly low energy consumption life-style.

If the 15 acres is what you want and there are no other similar options go for it. If not get a place that is hooked up and use very little electricity.
 

rockofullr

confused
Jun 11, 2009
7,349
897
East Bay, Cali
Interesting setup, I would be interested in something like this, but a few things to think about.
~If you are commuting to work very far away, it gives you much less response time & sometimes availability to deal with the issues that come with living off grid, and they do come. At very least, make sure there is good cell service at the house, that would be important for emergencies.
No cell service on my current provider. There is verizon and sprint service in the area but I don't know if it comes in at the house.

~Someone already mentioned it, but school system access...
A bus for the nearby school runs on the main road.

~I would examine the systems that require (electrical) energy and compare that to the on site production capabilities/types. If the whole thing relies heavily on the diesel genny daily to make it all work, that could get real old (& expensive) quick. OTOH, if there is sufficient on site battery storage being fed by the wind genny & solar to keep things powered without interruptions for decent stretches of time (without diesel use) then it could be pretty comfortable, and much less of a headache. Even if it has an old Lister genny, (which are reliable as hell) it would still be some extra trouble...
We need to get in contact with the current owner and discuss the details of electric/water/propane systems.
 

rockofullr

confused
Jun 11, 2009
7,349
897
East Bay, Cali
Crazy AND awesome. Dude, your own personal road gap to chicken coop? And she's into it too? Hell yes.
I'm grinning just thinking about the possibilities.

Is this out in the East Bay?
Yup. ~17mi out mines road from Livermore (it's still technically Livermore).

Edit: If the stars align and I get this property you are all invited for beers, bbq, bonfires, and trail building. Anyone own a bobcat?
 
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Jim Mac

MAKE ENDURO GREAT AGAIN
May 21, 2004
6,364
281
the middle east of NY
What are the financial pluses and minuses of living off the grid compared to doubling you commute not only in time but in energy costs, car wear & tear, etc?
 
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rockofullr

confused
Jun 11, 2009
7,349
897
East Bay, Cali
What are the financial pluses and minuses of living off the grid compared to doubling you commute not only in time but in energy costs, car wear & tear, etc?
Good questions. This is the first time I have considered something like this as anything other than a pipe dream. I was hoping someone one here could give me some guidance in terms of the cost of living in this kind of a situation.

I'm going to need to sit down with the calculator and do some figuring to calculate costs for all the extra driving.
 

sanjuro

Tube Smuggler
Sep 13, 2004
17,412
0
SF
The flip side is your independence comes at a price.

My friend, who is getting divorced, was living deep in hills. He mentioned if you want to see a street light, he had to check the wiring, screw in the lightbulbs, and make sure the generator was running. And he is the most handy of handymen I know.

Other friends live in NM and she has some serious health problems. I'm not exactly sure how living in a big town would have helped her, but possibly they would have more time to work so they would have afforded better medical care. Instead, they spent a lot of time raising animals and maintaining their property.

I should note neither set of friends were wealthy or even had steady work over the last few years. I'm sure you do and can afford help when you need it.
 
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Toshi

Harbinger of Doom
Oct 23, 2001
25,853
1,662
Economically speaking you will probably spend more money on batteries and other crap that will make it possible to live off the grid than you would on an electricity bill if you lived a similarly low energy consumption life-style.

If the 15 acres is what you want and there are no other similar options go for it. If not get a place that is hooked up and use very little electricity.
This.

Also note that the wife being down with the idea and wanting loads of crazy animals and the like is a plus. I'd be wary of the commute and the details of the electricity generation setup, as others noted.

In addition to getting more details from the seller, ask to get a few years worth of all relevant "utility" bills: upkeep on the generator, service on the solar + batteries, how much diesel was delivered when by who for what price, etc.
 

CrabJoe StretchPants

Reincarnated Crab Walking Head Spinning Bruce Dick
Nov 30, 2003
11,569
422
Groton, MA
I think we have different ideas of "off the grid".


If you're still paying taxes, you're on the grid. Other than major inconvenience, what are you gaining? It's really no different than buying a house that has a well/septic (like my house), and forgoing cable/internet/landline phone. At least in this case you have the benefit of ample electricity if you (most likely) need it. If you don't need it, don't use it.


I guess I just don't see the point myself.

PS - nevermind the fact it looks like a shed a redneck would make out of leftover lumber and pallets.
 
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rockofullr

confused
Jun 11, 2009
7,349
897
East Bay, Cali
I think we have different ideas of "off the grid".


If you're still paying taxes, you're on the grid. Other than major inconvenience, what are you gaining? It's really no different than buying a house that has a well/septic (like my house), and forgoing cable/internet/landline phone. At least in this case you have the benefit of ample electricity if you (most likely) need it. If you don't need it, don't use it.


I guess I just don't see the point myself.
Off the grid isn't the point. Buying a house that we can afford on 15 acres that we can move into without doing major construction is the draw.

Being off the grid is just a consequence of the area it's in. I'm trying to figure out if it's something I can live with to get what we want.
 

CrabJoe StretchPants

Reincarnated Crab Walking Head Spinning Bruce Dick
Nov 30, 2003
11,569
422
Groton, MA
Off the grid isn't the point. Buying a house that we can afford on 15 acres that we can move into without doing major construction is the draw.

Being off the grid is just a consequence of the area it's in. I'm trying to figure out if it's something I can live with to get what we want.
Misleading thread title is misleading.
 

OGRipper

Turbo Monkey
Feb 3, 2004
9,703
139
NORCAL is the hizzle
I think we have different ideas of "off the grid".


If you're still paying taxes, you're on the grid.
Splitting hairs much? Most people think "off the grid" means not being connected to the typical utilities, and this place would qualify.

Whatever, call it what you want. Some people would see it as inconvenience and would rather live downtown in a tiny condo with a postage stamp yard. Others would see that as hell and would rather get a nice chunk of land with a lot of potential at a down point in the market. Pluses and minuses to either approach, just gotta figure out what works best for you for the near future.
 

sanjuro

Tube Smuggler
Sep 13, 2004
17,412
0
SF
Off the grid isn't the point. Buying a house that we can afford on 15 acres that we can move into without doing major construction is the draw.

Being off the grid is just a consequence of the area it's in. I'm trying to figure out if it's something I can live with to get what we want.
You make your concerns clear.

I would imagine home ownership requires 5-15 hours a month in upkeep. Now the question is does this number double, even triple moving "off the grid".
 

jasride

Turbo Monkey
Sep 23, 2006
1,069
4
PA
You'll be those weird people who live up on the hill. All the kids in the neighborhood try and get as close as they can before being scared off. Some of them will even throw rocks at your windows.

Reminds me of my town growing up. We had a dude who lived off the grid, just outside of town. He was only known as Vizo. He lived in more of a fort set up made of plywood and trees. But he must of had about 10 different forts all in one area. Crazy adventures for a group of 10 year old trying to get a glimpse of the mountain man. I never saw him but a few of my buds claimed they drank 50 cent Genny's with him at the American Legion later in life.
 

CrabJoe StretchPants

Reincarnated Crab Walking Head Spinning Bruce Dick
Nov 30, 2003
11,569
422
Groton, MA
Splitting hairs much? Most people think "off the grid" means not being connected to the typical utilities, and this place would qualify.

Whatever, call it what you want. Some people would see it as inconvenience and would rather live downtown in a tiny condo with a postage stamp yard. Others would see that as hell and would rather get a nice chunk of land with a lot of potential at a down point in the market. Pluses and minuses to either approach, just gotta figure out what works best for you for the near future.
Well, a large chunk of this thread turned into a debate over costs, and the cost of electricity is likely a fraction of what property taxes are on 15 acres, I'm assuming. That's why I bring it up. I find it very hard to believe he can't find a similar lot of land/house with electricity. Costs would be a wash, with the added benefit of not worrying about whether or not you have the power you need for day to day activities.

I think the OP needs to list out his priorities in order and go from there. If you ask me if I want 15 acres of land and no electricity or 13 acres of land with electricity for the same price...well, the answer is pretty clear to me.


And back to your other point....if "off the grid" is not connected to most utilities...am I "off the grid" because I have a well and septic system? Because when I pay $X,XXX a year in property taxes, I sure as hell feel "on the grid".
 
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